U.S., China reach 'phase 1' of trade deal

Both China and the US have scheduled further tariff increases for December and Europe is considering retaliation against any US action

Crucial issues for Washington, such as Beijing's state-run model, digital trade and forced technology transfer, would be addressed later if a limited deal can be signed off, according to the Financial Times.

Trump told reporters that intellectual property theft, currency matters and agricultural purchases are also included in the deal. "However, we will not be fully satisfied until President Trump removes all of the China 301 import taxes hitting American families and American businesses". And China agreed to buy up to $50 billion in USA farm products. That would be a stunning feat, more than doubling from the prior level of less than US$20 billion in 2017.

In retaliation, Beijing began implementing punitive levies of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent on United States products valued at $75 billion, including agricultural products, crude oil and small aircraft.

After more than a year of trench warfare, however, it remained unclear whether the countries could sustain the momentum needed to conclude subsequent "phases" of the deal.

In an Oval Office press conference yesterday, President Trump and China's Vice Premier announced a Phase 1 set of agreements that will be documented over the next several weeks.

But he said he hoped to sign with Chinese leader Xi Jinping when they are both in Chile for the Apec leaders summit in mid November.

The enforcement part of the deal is still being worked out, he said. Officials familiar with the talks say possible outcomes will likely fall short of a sweeping, comprehensive trade deal that Trump has called for.

"For businesses this will mean less damage, not greater certainty", Daco said in a research note. "I will be meeting with the Vice Premier today".

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Under the agreement reached after two days of talks in Washington, the United States will not raise tariffs from 25% to 30% on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, which was initially set to take effect next Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Goldman Sachs said in an analyst note on Thursday morning that the bank expected the White House to slightly delay the implementation of additional tariffs, saying the impeachment "inquiry in the House may lead the White House to avoid further escalation of the trade war".

"The president is acting as if a lot of Chinese concessions have been nailed down, and they just haven't", Scissors said.

Still, Gregory Daco, an economist at Oxford Economics, suggested that the partial nature of the deal won't relieve much of the uncertainty surrounding trade policy that has discouraged many American companies from investing in new equipment and expanding. A private survey found last week that USA factory output dropped in September to the lowest level since the recession year 2009.

Trump launched the trade war against China with demands for sweeping structural reforms, but Beijing has indicated it is not willing to fundamentally change the way it controls China's economy.

Iowa's Republican senators also praised the progress, but noted that same caveat.

Trump's comments were preceded by an announcement from China's securities regulator containing a timetable for removing a requirement on foreign financial companies to have a Chinese investor.

"We are encouraged that the two sides appear to have made genuine progress on a number of critical issues", Brilliant said.

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